Many years ago, I was the Computer Statistician of my High School’s varsity football team. It was an unique position on the managerial squad. One of our coaches had purchased a software application for analyzing opposing teams’ offenses. Team scouts would collect the kind of data the application could analyze. My after-hours job was mostly data entry of any newly-arrived scouting reports but, more importantly, of running the analysis report of our next opposing team as soon as all relevant data was entered.
These reports were printed out on wide fan-fold paper because the bulk of each one was numerous ASCII grids that corresponded to lateral field positions. These simple graphics helped non-technical coaches interpret the results—statistical breakdowns of behavioral tendencies in an opponent’s play-calling. The breakdown categories were the traditional ones scouts and coaches use without computers: 1st-and-10, 2nd-and-long, et. al.
So I learned early that computers could be used for more than just playing games. They could be used as tools to help me play other games better. Even games that had nothing to do with computers.
I had found Dungeons & Dragons in Middle School, and already knew a few things about probability and statistics. I had been an user of computers, though mostly for playing games. I had even hacked game data once or twice. That only made the game easier to play; it did not make me a better player.
As the football seasons progressed, I watched those reports be used by the coaches to make our team play better through adaptation to our opponents’ patterns of play. Knowledge was power.
All that led to computer programming. My first original programs were various tools and toys for or related to D&D. I still write them in my leisure time, today.
I intend to blog about them. Soon.